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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

BJP in Assam comes under scanner for ‘saffronising’ education

Wednesday, 09 August 2017 12:53
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Guwahati, August 8: The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Assam is facing stiff resistance from several quarters over its attempt to name model colleges after Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) icon Deendayal Upadhyaya. 

Along with the allegation that by naming these colleges after the Jan Sangh leader the BJP governments, both in the state and the Centre, are trying to "saffronise" education in Assam, the ruling party is also feeling the heat over the demand to name these colleges after famous personalities from the state.

The powerful All Assam Students' Union (AASU) and the Opposition Congress asked the BJP "why the colleges should not be named after eminent personalities from the state?" 

The five Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Adarsha Mahavidalayas are all set to open their doors for students from September 1. The Sarbananda Sonowal government in the state has also issued appointment letters to the teachers and employees of these colleges recently.

The Assam-based peasant's organisation, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), on Monday slammed the Centre's decision to name the model colleges across the country, including Assam, after BJP ideologue Upadhyaya.

KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi said that it was evident that the BJP government was trying to saffronise the state's education by setting up colleges named after the RSS icon. 

"Earlier, the state government also decided to give Rs 10 lakh to the Sankardev Sishuniketans annually while ignoring the Jatiya Vidyalayas," he said.

"During the Congress rule, things were named after the members of the Nehru-Gandhi family. Now, the BJP is following suit and naming after BJP-RSS ideologies," Akhil added. 

"The BJP-led government has come to power with the promise of jati, bheti and mati (identity, land and homes). After coming to power they are taking up decisions one after another which are detrimental to the regional sentiment of the state."

AASU chief advisor Samujjal Bhattacharyya said it's a gross injustice to the eminent personalities of Assam who had contributed immensely towards education and social upliftment of the state.

"We have no issue if one or two colleges are named after Deendayal Upadhyaya. We do not disrespect him. But naming all new model colleges after him is definitely disrespecting eminent personalities from Assam whose contribution towards nation building was no less than that of Upadhyaya," Bhattacharyya said. 

The AASU also suggested the names of some eminent personalities from the state after whom these colleges could be named.

The students' organisation said some of these model colleges could be named after personalities such as Sahityarathi Lakhsminath Bezbaroa, Padmanath Gohain Baruah, Gopinath Bordoloi, Bhimbor Deuri, Moidul Islam Bora, Krishna Kanta Handique and Sitanath Brahma-Choudhury. 

The Congress described the decision to name the colleges after Upadhyaya "a stark declaration of unabashed cultural imperialism". Debabrata Saikia, leader of the Opposition in Assembly, said Upadhyaya did not take part in the freedom movement and was associated with a "divisive agenda".

"Upadhyaya took no part in the freedom struggle, nor did he believe in the concept of a multi-religious and multi-cultural India. Assam, on the other hand, has always been a shining example of unity in diversity. Sarma is making a mockery of the Assamese ethos by foisting the name of a person associated with a divisive agenda on centres of higher education," Saikia said in a statement.

"Some of the colleges should be named after Swargadeo Sukapha, the founder of the Ahom kingdom, the first ICS officer Anundoram Borooah, cultural doyen Jyotiprasad Agarwala, literary figure Lakshminath Bezbaroa, first Assamese high court judge Haliram Deka, and of course, Bhupen Hazarika," Saikia said.

Seven more such colleges would be set up soon, said state education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. Some of these would be exclusively for girls in minority-dominated areas, Sarma added.

According to a notification issued by the state higher education department, these colleges are being set up under a scheme with central assistance for educationally-backward districts where the gross enrolment ratio in higher education was less than the national average in 2008-09. The notification also said these colleges would be named after Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya, "a great thinker, philosopher, economist and sociologist". (Courtesy: OneIndia)


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